Power cuts take their toll on Amplats’ output

Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani

Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani

Photo by Creamer Media

23rd January 2020

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer


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Power outages implemented by State-owned power utility Eskom continued to negatively impact on precious metals miner Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) platinum group metals (PGMs) production in 2019, resulting in an overall unrecoverable loss of 38 000 oz of PGMs for the year.

In the first half of the year, Amplats’ own-managed mines lost 18 000 oz  of PGMs production owing to power outages that required the mines to shut down.

In the second half of the year, particularly in the fourth quarter, the miner’s own-managed mines lost a further 16 900 oz of PGMs, while its joint venture mines lost 3 200 oz of PGMs.

The power outages resulted in an impact to refined production of 74 700 oz of PGMs in the first quarter and a further 70 200 oz in the fourth quarter.

One load-shedding-related event, Amplats said, resulted in a total power outage at the Rusteburg processing facilities in December 2019, leading to a further impact on refined production of 71 100 of PGMs for the year.

However, according to Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani, the strong operational performance of the processing assets led to 127 000 oz of PGMs being caught up in 2019, with 89 000 oz of PGMs built up in work-in-progress inventory, which will be refined in 2020.

Despite the negative impact of power outages throughout 2019, total PGMs production of just over 1.1-million ounces still increased by 9% year-on-year, with platinum production up by 10% to 531 700 oz.

Palladium production also increased by 10% to 360 400 oz, even though the Eskom power outages led to a loss of production during the fourth quarter, ended December 31, of about 20 000 oz across all operations.

Total PGMs production from Amplats’ own-managed mines increased by 21% to 675 200 oz, with platinum having increased by 22% to 310 000 oz and palladium by 20% to 241 000 oz. These increases, the miner said on Thursday, were owing to higher production from all operations, despite the power outages, which resulted in a loss of 16 800 oz of PGMs production.

The Mogalakwena mine’s PGMs production increased by 24% to 317 500 oz, with platinum having increased by 25% to 135 800 oz and palladium by 23% to 146 000 oz. This, Amplats said, was owing to an increase in built-up head grade.

Amandelbult’s PGMs production increased by 25% to 238 700 oz, of which platinum comprised 120 100 oz and palladium 56 000 oz, as the benefit from increased development at Dishaba lower mine has allowed increased productivity and production.

Unki’s PGMs production increased by 5% to 52 000 oz owing to improved concentrator throughput and mill run-time, partially offset by lower grade.

On a 100% basis, the Mototolo mine’s PGMs production increased by 9% to 66 900 oz, with platinum output having increased by 10% to 30 900 oz and palladium by 8% to 19 000 oz, owing to higher mining rates and throughput efficiency improvement at the concentrator.

JV PGMs production, excluding Mototolo, decreased by 11% to 231 200 oz, and includes losses from Eskom power outages of 3 200 oz. PGMs production at Kroondal was down 8% owing to the power outages and PGMs production at Modikwa decreased by 16% owing to low equipment availability and Section 54 safety stoppages.

Refined PGMs production increased by 2% to 1.3-million ounces, despite the impact of Eskom power outages, as well as the associated Rustenburg processing facilities' power outage event in December.

PGM sales volumes were up 11% to 1.4-million ounces, with platinum sales volumes up 5% to 662 000 oz and palladium sales volumes up 11% to 432 700 oz owing to an increase in refined production, supplemented by a drawdown in refined inventory.

Overall, the miner’s production guidance for 2020 remains unchanged at between two-million and 2.2-million ounces of platinum and about 1.4-million ounces of palladium, subject to stable electricity supply.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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